Atherinos magic helps City to major NPL upset

City striker Tim Atherinos is quickly developing a reputation for scoring outrageous goals. Picture: DANDENONG CITY

By Marcus Uhe

Dandenong City has joined an exclusive club of just two in the National Premier League (NPL) Victoria season to have defeated the high-flying Oakleigh Cannons.

City used the standalone King’s Birthday public holiday fixture to send a message to the remainder of the competition, snapping the Cannons’ seven-game winning streak on their own pitch in the 2-0 win on Monday afternoon.

It’s the biggest scalp of City’s season to date, and a result that will make other teams take notice in the final third of the season.

George Lambadaridis opened the scoring in the 20th minute with his second goal in as many weeks, against the run of play after early Oakleigh dominance.

Thomas Giannakopoulos won the ball back from the Cannons in midfield, and the ball was played out to the right wing for Valli Cesnik to work his magic.

He controlled a bouncing ball as a defender closed his space, and put a looping deflected cross into the heart of the goal mouth, where Lambadaridis soared the tallest to nod the ball home from close range.

The vocal Dandenong contingent in attendance made their presence felt with raucous cheering, providing the atmosphere as Cannons fans looked on stunned.

15 minutes later, the visitors took a 2-0 lead, thanks to another piece of brilliance from Tim Atherinos.

Pouncing on a misdirected Cannons pass in their back half, Atherinos took possession just beyond halfway and began dribbling towards the centre of the pitch.

Cesnik and Lambadaridis provided runs on his right hand side, and caught the attention of defenders as he dribbled closer and closer to goal.

From 25 yards, Atherinos seized the opportunity with sagging defenders and let rip on his right foot, sending the ball into the top right corner with a effort that will no doubt be in contention when goal of the year is discussed.

Teammates and opponents looked stunned as the ball rippled the back of the net, as the hero of the moment celebrated his fifth goal of the campaign infront of the travelling City fans.

It’s his third from outside the penalty area this season, having done the business against Avondale in round one, and last week in the Croatian Derby against St Albans.

Oakleigh played the second half with intent, eager to maintain their winning streak and not drop vital points at home.

City rolled numbers behind the ball to protect the lead, and clogged space effectively, making it tough for the home side to navigate their attacking half.

Jackson Lino found himself at the centre of controversy in the 72nd minute, when Oakleigh midfielder Oliver Kubilay kneed him when lying on the ground, having just fouled the City defender.

Kubilay received a yellow card for his brain fade, as did Danny Kim, for his involvement in the ensuing scuffle.

The Cannons finished with more total shots, but it was City that took its opportunities to pull off a huge upset.

City remains in seventh place, but has closed the gap between itself and Port Melbourne, in sixth, to just three points.

City hosts Melbourne Knights on Saturday afternoon.